Eventually, Jeff Cochran was going to call.
Cochran was exposed last year as a conman and a criminal just days after conservative-leaning website The Blaze ran a story he manufactured about losing a sponsorship for his espoused political beliefs that just happened to jibe with those of founder Glenn Beck and Texas senator Ted Cruz -- the target audience for the site. With his lies laid out, there was little option but to reach out.
He sounded nervous on the other line, late in the winter. He wanted to tell the whole story, he said. There was no use in denying what had already been reported, but he wanted to offer context. In fact, he was willing to incriminate himself further. There was only one catch: Cochran wanted to have Mike Opelka, who wrote the initial story for The Blaze, on the line as well. Sure. Whatever.
Cochran said he didn't have much time to tell the story, but didn't explain further. The door was left open to share as he wished. We hung up; he never called back. Now we know why.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported authorities in Nebraska and Pennsylvania are seeking Cochran, suspecting he checked into several hotels and left large, unpaid bills in his wake. Nebraska court records reveal the 40-year-old is charged in an arrest warrant with theft. Pennsylvania authorities seek Cochan on two felony theft charges.
Two weeks after our last update on Cochran in Dec. 2013, Cochran checked into a Nebraska hotel. This time, however, Cochran didn't pose as a golf pro. How could he? Instead, he posed as a heart surgeon. He stayed 32 days in a hotel without paying, claiming the hospital would handle the cost. The hotel didn't verify Cochran's story or employment, continuing to allow him to stay. He checked out, having racked up a $3,200 bill. The stiffed hotel called the hospital wondering about payment and learned they had been duped.
Cochran pulled the same stunt in May in Pennsylvania, according to police records. Cochran purportedly called former PGA Tour host Nemacolin Woodlands resort and identified himself as a Uniontown Hospital doctor, Dan Renyolds, who wanted to set up a resort account for a heart surgeon who was also a golf pro -- not Dr. Gil Morgan. Cochran checked in under his own name and was given a room at the resort's Falling Rock hotel, which runs $500 per night. He stayed for two weeks, mounted some $16,000 in charges and walked out again. The resort hadn't checked Cochran's story.
This isn't the first time Cochran has done this. In late January 2008, Jeff Cochran was arrested in his hometown, Scottville, Mich., after an arrest warrant for him was issued in Florida.
Cochran was charged twice in the state with grand larceny for fraudulent use of credit cards, once in 2005 and again in 2007. In ’05, Cochran’s sentence was suspended after two days served in jail and he paid $1,515 in restitution. But the '07 charge had gone unresolved when Michigan police came looking for him.
According to a source with direct knowledge of Cochran's background, Cochran had checked himself into the Fairfield Inn in Clearwater, Fla., in late 2006. A group of Lockheed Martin employees were staying there at the time, and Cochran identified himself too as a Lockheed worker. Cochran befriended a hotel employee and stayed there for weeks. Eventually, the legitimate Lockheed workers began to wonder who he was. Before the hotel had wised up, Cochran was gone and left them with an unpaid bill of approximately $3,700.
Then there's the credit-card fraud Cochran committed later in 2008 and '09 when he used a then girlfriend's Social Security number to acquire credit cards in her name, adding himself onto the account. Cochran racked up over $18,000 in unpaid credit-card debt before the ex-girlfriend found out what had happened. After all, Cochran had all of the bills sent to his parents' house in Michigan; he was living with his girlfriend in Las Vegas, whose police force declined to pursue charges against Cochran because he was co-habitating with the girlfriend.
The refrain has been the same from every person who has spoken to Golf News Net about Cochran: He won't stop this behavior until he is in jail or dead. He may soon be in jail for a long time.